Don’t Tell Me To Calm Down

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cartoon showing man and girl talking
Courtesy Cagle Cartoons

At first I told myself I was going to wait until I calmed down to write this column. Then, I realized, that will never be.

I will never get over 19 children and two teachers being brutally gunned down in cold blood on a day when they were getting ready to celebrate the start of summer. I will never forget trying to imagine – which I can only do – what it must be like for the families of those who were slain.

Parents looking into empty backyards where once the happy laughs of children floated through the air, swing sets that will remain motionless. That next game of catch that will never happen. Father-daughter dances that will now only take place in the imaginary world of what could have been, one of many, many would-be memories stolen in the blink of an eye.

Or, in this case, the blast of a gun.

And I will never lose this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I think of those who could do something to stop this.

All of us.

A good friend wrote these words on social media, and I’m glad he’s letting me share them here. He’s one of the smartest and kindest people I know, as apparently was his father.

“Again today, I’m reminded of something my dad used to say…’Don’t expect God to do something for you that you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself.’ Prayers are fine, but the fact of the matter is, as a country, we simply lack the moral will and desire to do anything at all to curb the senseless gun violence that today took 19 children and two teachers’ lives. So pray if you want, but just know that God isn’t going to do for us what we have the power, but not the moral will, to do for ourselves.”

Before anyone goes saying that my friend is trying to tell us what God is and is not going to do, give it some thought. How much respect are we showing the Almighty when we turn our backs on protecting each other? Even those who know very little of the Bible are aware of the “do unto others” philosophy Jesus and our Father stressed.

Nonetheless, thoughts and prayers have been loaded and sent to Uvalde. There are several more truckloads already set to be sent to wherever the next mass shooting takes place tomorrow – or, if we’re lucky enough to skip a day, the day after that.

Mass shootings happen more often in this country than I sneeze during allergy season. And it seems the two favorite targets for these madmen are gatherings of minorities and schools.

And each time nothing gets done by the people in power who could at least reduce the frequency of these horrible incidents. I believe in Heaven and Hell – and I believe there must be a special place in Hell for folks who don’t lift a finger to save the lives of children.

Let’s pause here. This is not a political column. I don’t want all guns confiscated. Americans do have the right to bear arms, though I’m betting our Founding Fathers would be slapping a few people silly if they were here to see how their words have been distorted.

Americans also have the right to leave their homes without wondering if a gunman will open fire in the middle of the movie they are watching, or during the church service they are attending. And most of all, Americans have the right to believe that when they drop their children off at school, it won’t be the last time they get a kiss and hug.

Another good friend lost her son in the 1999 Wedgewood Church shooting in Fort Worth. He was there for a student gathering, hanging out with friends and enjoying pizza.

My children are grown now, so I will never know the pain she endured – and still does. The pain when Joey’s birthday rolls around each year, and instead of celebrating with cake and presents, doing all she can to stay busy and put her mind elsewhere – always unsuccessfully. The pain of the day he would have graduated, first high school, then college.

And the pain of watching others’ grandkids, mine, for example, run and play and laugh with Pawpaw (that’s me). Like the parents and grandparents in Uvalde, that was all taken away.

I said we are all to blame. Yes, we are. We can put people in power who will make the necessary changes.

Again, I’m not advocating anyone coming after all the guns. But I am asking that we put folks in place who do have a problem with children being killed.

And it doesn’t matter what party they belong to. As I said, this column is not about politics. Those children weren’t registered with any side, and now never will be.

Statistics show that the vast majority of Americans want stronger gun laws. They want background checks and loopholes closed. Quite simply, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why not submit to a background check, and for what purpose would you need a gun that you can’t wait a week or 10 days to get it properly?

Well, I guess we can all, sadly, think of one purpose.

So, if I had waited until I calmed down, I’d never have written this. Will it make a difference? I don’t know, but I’m going to take a few prayers not yet loaded on a truck and say them in hopes my voice and so many others like mine will be heard and acted upon.

Unlike those 19 children in Uvalde and the 20 at Sandy Hook, who will never be heard again.

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Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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